What Is Anxiety? – How Therapy Can Help

Young man holding his forehead while squiggles of worry and anxiety surround his head

Anxiety is a hot topic nowadays. But it’s more than just a buzzword. It’s actually a huge problem across the globe, thanks to the daily stresses affecting our lives. GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year.

Women are twice as likely to be affected. The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle.

Unfortunately, many people don’t fully understand what anxiety is. Because of this, they continue to endure symptoms that haven’t been properly diagnosed. As a result, they don’t seek treatment and continue to suffer with the symptoms.

Anxiety won’t just go away on its own. It’s important to understand the ins and outs of this mental health problem. The more you know about the condition, the easier it will be to manage your symptoms.

Treatment is a huge benefit when you’re dealing with anxiety. It can help you learn how to move through your issues and get better.

Anxiety Manifests Differently from Person to Person

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish when getting nervous or anxious is a normal feeling vs. when you might have an anxiety disorder.

It is normal to feel nervous or anxious in certain situations, like when you’re making your first stand up presentation or asking someone you feel attracted to out on a date. But pervasive and intense worry can be something much more serious.

So what is anxiety and what can you expect if you’re struggling with it?

There are complications to diagnosing anxiety. That’s because anxiety does not always exhibit itself in the same way. Each person experiences anxiety in his or her own unique way.

Also, there are various types of anxiety, which can make pinning down exact symptoms difficult.

Many people think the symptoms of anxiety are nothing more than a racing heart or sweaty palms. But, it’s so much more than that. That’s why it’s good to be able to recognize some of the common symptoms that can affect you both mentally and physically.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (or “GAD”) is a psychological disorder characterized by excessive or disproportionate anxiety about several aspects of life, such as work, social relationships, or financial matters.

A person suffering from GAD is consumed by anxious thoughts over a wide array of topics. Usually the worry is out of proportion to the actual risk or threat.

Extreme worrying almost every day for six months or more may signal generalized anxiety disorder.

What Are Other Symptoms of Anxiety?

When diagnosing for GAD, clinical professionals look for the types of worry described above. In adults, they also look for at least three of the following cognitive or physical symptoms:

  • Edginess or restlessness
  • Feeling more fatigued than usual
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Increased muscle aches or soreness
  • Sleep disturbances, such as  trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, restlessness, or unrefreshing sleep

It’s Important To Not Ignore the Symptoms

This isn’t an exhaustive list. But, if you’re experiencing any of these things, don’t take it lightly.

Assuming that your symptoms will pass or that you’re just “stressed out” won’t help the problem. In fact, it can get even worse.

Symptoms of intense anxiety can lead to anxiety disorder, which might cause things like panic attacks. It can reach a point where the disorder takes up so much of your life that it becomes debilitating.

The best advice? If you feel like something is wrong or “off,” don’t be afraid to see a therapist.

How Can Therapy Help?

There are several different ways to treat anxiety. These include medication, stress reduction strategies, and therapy.

Therapy is one of the most effective because it can provide lasting, long-term healing from anxiety that medication or other approaches can’t offer.

Unlike medication, therapy does more than just treat the symptoms of anxiety. It gets to the underlying root of what might be causing these issues to begin with.

As a therapist guides you to examine the situations that make you anxious,  you will develop deeper understanding and different kinds of coping skills, behaviors, and ways of thinking that will bring you relief.

As you explore the deeper causes of your anxiety over time, therapy can help you to achieve a significant  reduction or elimination of your  symptoms.

When Should You Go to Therapy?

Anxiety can be debilitating or even paralyzing. But therapy can help you get through it and get your life back without the crippling fear and stress from this far-too-common condition.

There is no ideal time to seek out some type of treatment for anxiety. Whether you’ve just started to experience symptoms, or you’ve been dealing with the disorder for years, it can help the condition at any stage.

When you see a therapist for the disorder, you can work on a treatment plan that is specific to your individual needs.

If you’re looking for a safe place to start, please feel free to contact me.

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